The tag line says it all: “In a world where Batman has gone too far, The Joker must save Gotham City.” And that’s our jumping off point, folks. What if Batman is the great and terrible menace while The Joker is the hero that Gotham needs to stop Batman’s bloody insanity. This is basically fan fiction to the umpteenth degree. On some level, a lot of elseworld stories that DC Comics have put out could be filed under those topics. The kind of “what if?” stories are nothing new but this is one of most tantalizing scenarios ever presented. And that’s exactly what we’re getting in this week’s Batman: White Knight #1!
The Joker’s been cured of his insanity and his inclination to, you know, murder people. “Jack” is on the course to right his wrongs. First, he’s going to make things cool again with his main squeeze, Harley Quinn. Then he’ll tackle the task of becoming Gotham’s savior from it’s greatest threat: Batman. Oh, what a tangled web will be woven in this seven issue mini-series from legit superstar Sean Murphy.
The idea of swapping heroes and villains isn’t a new idea in comics. Marvel tried it in continuity with the storytelling miss that was Shadowland. Or more recently their big event Axis. Or that even more recent event Secret Empire. For DC’s part, they’ve specialized in doing these kind of character experiments in their elseworld storylines. Superman: Red Son ring any bells? How about the current Nightwing: The New Order? Some of the best stories DC has ever created has been based on flipping the status quo that is engrained in our psyches. And what more iconic relationship between hero and villain is there than Batman and The Joker?
To be fair, this isn’t even the first time that a story’s explored the idea of a version of Batman being the ultimate villain. I mean, the current Dark Nights: Metal storyline has, what, seven of them threatening the entire DC Universe? Or how about the very excellent Batman: Going Sane that involved The Joker being cured of his madness and named Joe (fun note: a story originally pitched to DC Comics, rejected, repurposed at Marvel that became the iconic Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline and then a few years later was greenlit by DC). But with Sean Murphy’s art, the current willingness at DC to let these types of stories have the editorial breadth to be its own standalone adventure, the joke will be on you for not picking it up.